Real Choice Requires Real Options

My involvement in housing, employment, and social options for adults with developmental disabilities began in 2007 when I became an only parent of Lindsay, my then 11 year old daughter.

When I adopted her from a Vietnam orphanage at age two with my now ex-wife, we knew nothing about her medical conditions and had agreed to treat her arrival like a birth. Nine years later, however, I was answering questions from my family and friends about what would happen to Lindsay after I passed on because I am 39 years older and unlikely to outlive her.

So I started researching options. For housing, employment, and all the other things that add up to a life well lived. As a former investigative reporter and market development consultant, I knew how to find the information I needed. Very quickly I became immersed in the debate over what constitutes a “home” and who gets to define “community.”

For me it is pretty straightforward: adults with disabilities have the human and civil rights to live, work, socialize, recreate, love, learn, and worship in the settings and manner of their choosing, with the support of their families, friends, and caregivers. Community is defined by the individual.

But I didn’t stop there. I wrote public comment about proposed regulations. Testified in state and federal committees about legislation and the lack of funding. I defended the rights of my daughter and others like her to make their free and informed choices about their lives. I also started LTO Ventures to develop options under our name, and to provide consulting and project management services to other families and organizations to help them create housing, employment, and social options for adults with IDD.

I also am pleased to be an adviser to my friend Jerry Horton and Point Rider, Inc. to work with families and nonprofits around the country to create more home and community options for thousands of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

And last, I am glad to be part of national advocacy efforts like Together for Choice and join hundreds of like-minded adults w/IDD, their families, and other nonprofits creating options across the country.